Can you remember something that truly changed your life for the better? For Amber Patterson, that event occurred when she found out she had won a free and complete smile makeover from Martin-Taylor Dentistry. We talked to both Amber and Dr. Will Taylor, the dentist providing Amber’s makeover. First let’s hear what Dr.Taylor had to say about his visits with Amber. Then watch for the follow up story when we sat down and chatted with Amber.
With over 80 applicants for the complete smile makeover, what types of things were considered in selecting the winner?
DR TAYLOR: “Obviously we looked at their actual cases and their need for a smile makeover. We wanted to help in terms of improving their social interaction and self esteem. But we were also looking for someone who needed actual functional help. That could mean they were missing teeth or were having difficulty chewing. It wasn’t just about taking someone who’s got slightly crooked teeth and putting veneers on them to make them look perfect. It was about actually helping someone regain their bite and their function.
We also looked at their personality. Could we work well together? The process would take some time and it was important to find a candidate we felt would not only appreciate the work, but be committed to the entire process. It was also beneficial to find a candidate willing to learn how to improve their oral hygiene habits in order to insure they could maintain their teeth after the work was completed.
Amber is super nice and she’s very appreciative. She thanks me every time she sees me! She is always on time and hasn’t missed any of her appointments. That says a lot about Amber. She is not only a busy mom of two kids, but also attends school to become a radiology technician. Financially, she didn’t have the wherewithal to have proper dental care, so she ended up losing a lot of her teeth and had quite a bit of decay. Like many folks, she lacked proper dental education. She is eager to learn how to care for her teeth. She is the perfect candidate.”
How was Amber notified she had won? What was her reaction?
DR TAYLOR: “We called and told her she was a finalist and that she needed to come in for an initial exam, free of charge, of course. When she came in, I did an exam, looked at everything and got to know her a bit. After that exam, I decided that she was going to be a perfect case for the makeover. When I told her we chose her for the smile makeover, she was very appreciative, almost to the point of tears. She was beyond ecstatic and still couldn’t believe we weren’t going to charge her anything.”
Tell us about Amber’s first appointment.
DR TAYLOR: “Before we even decided she was the winner, we did a full series of x-rays. I also took photos, did a visual exam, a periodontal exam, an oral cancer screen and a tissue exam. I also checked for TMJ. We did not clean her teeth that first visit because we were really just gathering information. It was actually on her second trip to our office that she learned she had been chosen as the winner.”
What treatment plan was agreed upon?
DR TAYLOR: “I wanted to get her bite stable and to get her functional. She had infection, which was causing her pain, so we needed to do a root canal. She also needed an extraction. She was immediately put on antibiotics for the infection. We needed to do nine large aesthetic fillings, and she needed professional cleaning. Additionally, Amber may need a crown. In fact, she may end up needing multiple crowns. We also decided to whiten her teeth. I have to see how the bleach turns out with her old fillings up front. If they’re really showing through, I’ll either have to redo them or crown them. Toward the end of the treatment she will be getting partial dentures because she is missing posterior teeth.”
How did you decide the priority of the treatments?
DR TAYLOR: “Usually I take care of a chief complaint first. So if something is causing pain, that’s first. Amber was hurting, so I needed to take care of those issues first. Then we go in order of severity. We start with the worst teeth and work down to the ones that are a little better off in terms of decay and stability. Once everything is cleaned out and stable, then we do the bleaching. After that I’ll do crowns, if they’re needed, and lastly, I’ll make her partial denture.”
What steps of the treatment have been completed so far?
DR TAYLOR: “I have seen Amber eight times so far. The first visit was on November 16th, to meet Amber, do the initial exam, take x-rays and photos.
At the second appointment, after reviewing all the information, we told her she had won the free smile makeover. Then we went over the treatment plan and each phase of her treatment to make sure she understood everything and was totally on board. It’s important for the patient to fully comprehend and agree to the plan of treatment.
On the third appointment we got to work. I did a root canal, extracted a wisdom tooth and did two fillings. During the next few appointments I did a total of seven more fillings and Amber had her initial professional cleaning. On the seventh appointment, we did a second cleaning and took impressions for bleaching trays.
The last time I saw Amber, on January 26th, we gave her the customized bleaching trays and instructed her how to use them. She’s due to come in any time now for her ninth appointment. That’s when we’ll make the decision about crowning. Amber had a lot of really big, old fillings, and we’ll have to see how they look after the bleaching. Obviously I don’t want a half a tooth that’s dark from an old filling.
What is left to complete?
Next we do the crowns, if we need them, and lastly, we’ll take impressions and make the partial. That generally takes about three more appointments. I imagine we’ll be done sometime in March. All told, it should end up being about twelve appointments over a four month span.
I have really enjoyed this journey with Amber. She seems ecstatic to have all this work done — to have the infection gone and the decay cleaned out. She has been terrific to work with and again, she is so appreciative. It’s also been great to see her learn and practice proper dental hygiene, so her new smile should last a very long time!”
(Watch for Part Two about this Smile Makeover when we talked with Amber!)